A Charles Sturt University academic has teamed up with scholars from around the world to form the Global Recess Alliance, which has issued a statement urging schools globally to prioritise recess time as they reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The newly-formed alliance is comprised of scholars, health professionals, and education leaders from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia whom collectively have compiled a collection of books, position statements, frameworks and educational policies on the importance of school recess and play.
In response to months of sheltering and restrictions associated with the COVID-19 crisis, the members of the alliance have combined their expertise to release a statement with strategies to pave the way for a fundamental shift in the ways reopening schools should approach recess.
The statement showcases how providing supportive school recess time can guide students and teachers back from months of interrupted routines, boredom, loneliness, family stress, anxiety, and often a lack of physically active and social play.
The Australian representative of the Global Recess Alliance, Senior Lecturer and Course Director in the Charles Sturt School of Education, Dr Brendon Hyndman, said he hopes the statement will help to highlight the benefits of recess, particularly during these uncertain times.
"Decades of research has revealed that providing sufficient and supportive recess opportunities for students can enhance learning, mood, wellbeing and engagement," Dr Hyndman said.
"This is a crucial stage with schools reopening to promote inclusive and enjoyable play opportunities to enhance mental, social and physical wellbeing.
"Seeing friends, playing, and being outside can add normality to the school day."
Dr Hyndman said the statement was created to urge schools to include multiple and sustained recess periods in their reopening schedules and help guide education professionals and school communities as schools reopen.
"This important statement created by the Global Recess Alliance aims to help teachers and provide insights into what should be considered by schools around timing, classes, locations, planning and resources during school recess," he said.
"Recess is often the only chance for students to freely engage in personal, social and physical exploration via outdoor recreation throughout a school day, and to experience their universal right to play.
"Providing positive recess opportunities is vital to breaking up the strict routines associated with a loaded curriculum, timetabling, instructions, confined spaces and even play restrictions at home.
"The research conducted by the scholars in the alliance has been finding that in most instances, some of the most powerful play for students' development is self-directed, without teacher reliance."
According to Dr Hyndman, the alliance agree that it is important to recognise it is not only students who benefit from recess.
"Right now it is important for both teachers and students to use recess as a time to reconnect in activities that will allow for meaningful and playful engagement," Dr Hyndman said.
"Teachers have been burdened with many shifts to their roles and expectations during the global health crisis.
"Recess can be a valuable time for teachers to get outdoors for some air during their busy schedules and help them to heal after so many COVID-19 restrictions."
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